Jake Riggsbee, Craig and Amy Andrews, Billy and Vicky Booth, Mark Pressley, Maria Olds, the Stricklands, Fran and Steve Hunter, Ed McKeown, Scott Lee, Larry Ward, Diana Howell, Tony Casucci, Dennis and Susan Cotton, Jeff Olds, Terry-Michael Newell, Faithe and Tom Beam, Kerry Patterson, John and Teresa Crawford, and Mary Lou Booth are the beginning of a very incomplete and significant list for me. These are snapshot of the names of people who invested their lives into mine. These are not teachers or coaches. Rather, these are youth and college leaders from Salem Baptist Church and Campbell University. This incomplete list is a glimpse into those who helped form who I am today, as a follower of Jesus, husband, father, friend, and pastor.
Who are the people on your list?
Who are the people on the list of current UBC youth and college students?
It is a bold question to ask, but it is a necessary one.
In a study conducted by Barna a few years back, researchers found that 59% of adults stayed in church as a result of meaningful relationships during their time as middle and high school students. Stop and think about that. Meaningful and caring relationships with youth within a faith community is a crucial indicator of whether or not that youth will continue in a faith community beyond High School.
A recent Harvard study reveals that children who had a religious upbringing are likely to be healthier and have a higher degree of well-being in early adulthood than those who did not (study link).
As I reflect on what kept me in church, I can honestly say it was the care, mentoring, memories, laughter, challenge, authenticity, real, and meaningful relationships I had among my fellow students and youth leaders.
A Wonderful Feat of Faith
We are attempting a wonderful feat of faith. University Baptist Church is stepping forward to develop a dynamic and authentic youth and college ministry experience.
First and foremost, we have reorganized the personnel structure to allow for two pastoral staff members to put their focus on youth and college. The Minister of Community will develop opportunities for meaningful connections and relationships among youth and college, while the Minister of Spiritual Formation will develop opportunities for spiritual development among youth and college.
This new model of pastoral leadership avoids one person having to be a multi-purpose tool for all the needs that a youth or college ministry demands. Instead, the pastoral leadership will be split between two staff persons who focus on specific emphasis for the youth and college.
Second, we are inviting parents of youth to make UBC a priority for themselves and for their child. Presence matters. Participation matters. Investment matters. Building something together matters. We graciously invite you to be a part of something brilliant and wonderful in the making.
Third, we are inviting members of UBC to invest in the youth and college ministry. By investment, we are not asking for money. Instead, we are calling for mentors, caregivers, and spiritual investors to give of themselves to youth and college students.
How to Practically Get Involved
We can talk about it taking a village to raise a child, while also being that village to that middle and high school or college student. So, let’s flesh this out.
Mentors are people who are willing to teach and lead conversations or helping put on events for students. We need Sunday morning spiritual formation teachers and Sunday transformed discussion leaders.
Caregivers are people dedicated to simply being present during scheduled youth and college programs or hosting youth or college students for a meal once per month. Don’t underestimate the power of presence, the power of shared experience, the power of encouragement.
Spiritual investors are those willing to partner together with one youth or college student to pray for him/her by name, for specific situations, and to communicate with that youth or college student through notes of encouragement.
In addition, we have a practical way for you to invest in our work with college students. LSU Move-In Day is Saturday, August 17. Volunteer for a 2-hour shift and share the story of UBC as we welcome new students to Baton Rouge. Please click here to sign up to volunteer.
Jeff Myers, in his book “Cultivate: Forming the Emerging Generation through Life-on-Life Mentoring,” writes, “Mentoring is the cultivation of young adults, the tender caring for and nurturing of them so that they will grow, flourish, and be fruitful.”
Will you help nurture this new experience for youth and college? Contact Eric (firstname.lastname@example.org)to get involved.